The Lessons I learned Navigating Michigan Ross and Starting BlackGen Capital
I am originally from Pflugerville, TX, right outside of Austin. I came to the University of Michigan in 2020, the first year of COVID-19. As a result, my family and I decided it would be best for me to complete my first year online.
I was originally in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) when I got accepted into Michigan, but my main goal in my first year was to go into business. While I was in LSA, it was hard for me to find resources that would simply help me learn about business. Thankfully, I was able to find out about Preparation Initiative (PI), a community that helped me prepare to transfer to Ross. PI was and has been a transformative part of my academic career, without Rhonda Todd and the rest of my PI family I would not have been as prepared for Ross as I was. PI helped prepare me professionally and socially, giving me the confidence and tools needed to succeed in such a high-achieving environment. Following my freshman year, I transferred to Ross from LSA and sought to find out where my specific interest lies in business. Through this search, I found Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity (DSP), where I realized my interest in Finance. I was able to learn more about finance through my own research, coffee chats with brothers, and corporate events. Even though I didn’t come from a traditional finance background, brothers in DSP continually reassured me and gave me the tools to succeed. Both of these communities have been and continue to be an integral part of my success. I was, and still am, blessed to be in the position to succeed, but what happens to those who aren’t fortunate enough to have the experience, friends, and resources I had?
Not coming from a finance background, especially in a prestigious school where many already have exposure to the industry, is one of the largest barriers to entry into the finance world. Throughout my few years in college, I noticed a lack of accessibility and opportunity for minority students to learn more about finance. Whether that be due to a lack of awareness or access, I wanted to help in any way I possibly could.
That is why I, along with my friend Omar Elrashid, founded a chapter of BlackGen Capital at the University of Michigan. BlackGen Capital is an organization focused on closing the access gap by creating a pipeline for talented minority students interested in entering the financial services industry. BlackGen Capital members are provided with a standardized 10-week educational series, mentorship, and most importantly a community. I wanted anyone with a passion or interest in finance to have an opportunity to learn. For any new student who was like me, unsure of their place, unsure of their interest, or without a finance background, to have the access to a community that will aid them. Our goal was not only to create a space for students in Ross, but all over campus, and we have seen great progress in doing so. This past Fall, I was elected to serve on the National Board as Co-Chief Executive Officer, overseeing operations of all of the chapters, where I am now able to contribute and give back on a larger scale. For this, I am thankful and enjoy every opportunity and experience. As President at Michigan, my goal was for every student who enters BlackGen to learn more than I was able to through my first few years at Michigan, and I believe it is already happening!
Navigating through Ross and starting BlackGen the way I did has taught me many valuable lessons.
Lesson 1: If You Want Change then Make It.
Throughout my various experiences in Ross, I learned that my voice can and should be heard. There was change that I wanted and, although BlackGen has so much more to accomplish at Michigan, it began with an idea and motive. Through this idea, I have not only been able to create something, but I have been able to learn a lot about myself and my community through it. Even when I was looking to transfer into Ross, I voiced my interest and was able to find my way to Ross. When I sought to learn more about business, I voiced my interest again and was able to find a community to help guide me in the right direction.
Lesson 2: Impactful Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight.
I have learned to cherish the small wins that occur everyday. When I look back to what has shaped my experience at Ross, it has mostly come from the process, not the product of what I was aiming to achieve. Although the product of the creation of BlackGen was rewarding, the time over winter break getting to know my eboard, late nights planning every general body meeting, or having a debate that challenges and improves my knowledge within finance, have had a profound impact on me. With these wins, I also learned that struggle is a part of growth. From my experience, there is not a perfect formula to create change and there will be mistakes. I have learned to accept this, but use every opportunity to grow. Although it is cliche to say, through all of my mistakes, I have been able to succeed in many ways during my time here due to learning from my mistakes.
Throughout my experience in Ross, ultimately, I learned throughout all my experiences, if you see an opportunity to make positive change then seize it with confidence. Whether that positive change has been in my personal, professional, academic, or social life, I have sought to seize every opportunity to learn along the way. I aim to continue to do so and look forward to the journey ahead.
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